Safety Information

Winter Storage (Nov 2008 newsletter)

by Ted and Joyce Strutz

This month I am borrowing an article from another educator. It is what I wanted to write about this month and he says it well.

November is upon us once again. Since most of you are thinking of putting your bikes and trailers away for the winter, I will again offer a few tips for getting your trusty steed ready for winter storage.

  • First, change the engine oil. Dirty oil contains acids, hydrocarbons, and other chemicals that will microscopically eat and corrode your engine and components during storage.
  • Wash and wax your bike and trailer. Be sure to put plenty of wax on all metal parts, especially chrome and aluminum including the wheels. This will help keep rust and corrosion from forming while they are in the cold and dampness of storage.
  • Store the bike on its center stand. This keeps the weight off the suspension. It also helps prevent flat spots on the tires. Bikes stored on the side stand tend to develop flat spots on the sides of the tires.
  • Whether you remove the battery from the bike or choose to leave it in the bike, put a battery maintainer on the battery. Your battery will last a lot longer by doing this. Using anything but a good battery maintainer can result in cooking your battery thus shortening the battery life.
  • DO NOT start your bike every so often through the winter to charge the battery or whatever other reason unless you are going to ride it for a half hour or longer. It takes that long to warm up the bike and charge the battery. When you run the engine without proper warm up, the engine and exhaust can't burn off the moisture created by running a cold engine. Moisture causes rust and corrosion.
  • Remove anything you don't want to freeze such as liquids, polishes, and even flashlights and batteries. If you put a cover on your bike and trailer, use a cloth cover that will breathe. Old bedspreads and sheets work well. Using a non-breathable waterproof cover can cause moisture to stay under the cover resulting in rust and corrosion forming.
  • Check you trailer wheel bearings for water and repack with fresh grease. I prefer using marine grease as water does not affect it. Water left in the bearings will cause rust to form in the bearings at the points of contact due to the wheels not being moved due to storage. Rusty bearings will fail and/or tie up prematurely.
  • Store the bike with a full tank of gas. This will help keep water condensation from forming in the gas tank. Tanks made of steel can rust. Put stabil in the gas. This product will help keep the gas from going stale and forming varnish during storage.

Doing these things will help keep winter storage damage to a minimum as well as making it easier to do your spring maintenance.